I was in a car with Tyler and Dan, two guys just a little older than I was. Even at that time, 7 months into my relationship with Sheila, I was hoping these two men would be my future brothers-in-law. We were just coming back from a night of bonding over conversation and good food, when the question came up. I don’t remember which one of them had asked it, but it would change everything for me.
“So, Arel, what are you doing now to prepare for being married?”
The emphasis for me was on the now. I was a communications student at a community college. My goal was to become a wildly successful filmmaker, but my plan to get there wasn’t even an outline at this point. I suppose somewhere in my head I figured things would just work themselves out.
As I grasped for more and more words to try and describe the foggy visions of success I had in my mind, I realized I was telling them everything they needed to hear. I was doing nothing to prepare and the realization sunk me. I could feel the air bubbles holding my dreams reach the surface and pop. I could feel the car moving quickly down the highway, but my life felt at a stand still, completely motionless.
To alleviate your concerns, I’ll give this away: no, I did not drown and eventually my life would pick up momentum, careening me toward that once so ambiguous goal of becoming a filmmaker. I would eventually come to remember this night as the first of many necessary hills I would climb to reach where I am now and I can only expect many more are on the horizon.
At this point, the two of them began helping me reverse engineer my plan for success. They did this by asking me some pretty basic questions and if you are someone with lofty goals, you will have to ask yourself these types of questions:
1. What does your dream job look like? What does the picture of the end goal look like?
I proceeded to describe a film studio that in some way was pushing forward the art of indie-filmmaking with incredible God honoring stories. I also included that this studio would have some sort of teaching facette because I simply enjoyed teaching teens and young adults.
2. What steps do you need to take to make this film company happen?
I had much less to say when we got to this question. I hadn’t ever broken down the steps. For some reason the path seemed so ambiguous to me then. Thankfully, Tyler was very familiar with start-ups and he saw very clearly that, basically, that was what I needed to become.
So, he broke it down for me:
- I would need to become a corporation and do some research on what business model would work best for a filmmaking company.
- Like any film company I would need to develop my craft and my audience. This step seemed like it was where the ambiguity of being a successful filmmaker would begin. How does one build an audience? Well, as I have learned over the last year, this is not as abstract as it might first appear, but I will go into more detail about that in a later post. What it would boil down to for me is, just making some videos and getting them in front of people. Like any artist, I needed a portfolio to show people I’m actually making stuff.
- The last thing we determined, was that I needed to find people to speak into my goal and keep me on track. Tyler and Dan would certainly be a part of this, but the idea was that I needed other filmmakers speaking into my work. To use an old analogy, I was a journeyman seeking out a master who would help me develop my craft. I have since then gotten to speak with many masters, but I haven’t stopped looking for that particular master who would stick with me and help me develop my craft.
Well, when I stepped out of the car, I stepped out with a whole new determination to pursue my goals of creating my own film studio.
Only 4 months later would Avellino Studios, LLC step into existence. In, another 5 months I would be able to move out of my family’s house in PA to live in VA only 12 minutes away from Sheila, the love of my life.
Over the next year I would develop the contacts in the area that would allow me to begin a mentorship program as well as a full fledged course on indie-filmmaking. In that time, I would also get to meet other talented, professional filmmakers who would not only pour into me, but my students as well.
Which brings us to today, where I am in the process of pre-production for my first feature film for next year. It is hard to believe it was only a year and a half ago, that I was sitting in the backseat of a car bewildered how I would ever take my first steps to becoming a filmmaker. Though, I cannot be sure of what will come with each new day, the goal is in site and I am in motion.